1,4 Dioxane

1,4-Dioxane can be created as a byproduct during the manufacturing process of certain ingredients used in personal care products, including hair care items. It is primarily formed through a reaction called ethoxylation.

Ethoxylation is a chemical process that involves treating certain compounds, such as fatty alcohols or ethylene glycol, with ethylene oxide. This reaction helps modify the properties of these compounds and make them more suitable for use in cosmetics and personal care products.

During the ethoxylation process, there is a possibility of residual ethylene oxide remaining in the final product. If these products are contaminated with ethylene oxide and not adequately purified, 1,4-dioxane can form as a byproduct.

As a consumer, it can be challenging to determine the exact amount of 1,4-dioxane in a product without access to specialized equipment and testing methods. However, there are some general guidelines and indicators that can help inform your decision:

Look for ingredient transparency: Reputable brands often provide ingredient lists on their products or websites. Check the ingredient list for any ingredients that may be associated with 1,4-dioxane contamination. Ingredients such as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), polyethylene glycols (PEGs), and ingredients with "eth" in their name (e.g., ceteareth) have the potential to be associated with 1,4-dioxane contamination.

Here's why 1,4-dioxane is considered undesirable in hair care and its potential environmental impact:

Carcinogenic potential: 1,4-Dioxane has been classified as a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Prolonged or repeated exposure to high levels of 1,4-dioxane has been associated with an increased risk of certain types of cancer, including liver and kidney cancer.

Skin and eye irritation: 1,4-Dioxane can cause skin and eye irritation in some individuals. Direct contact with products containing high levels of 1,4-dioxane may lead to redness, itching, burning sensation, or discomfort.

Persistence in the environment: 1,4-Dioxane is highly soluble in water and does not readily degrade in the environment. When products containing 1,4-dioxane are rinsed off and enter wastewater systems, it can persist in water bodies and contaminate groundwater. This poses a risk to aquatic organisms and ecosystems.

Regulatory restrictions: Due to its potential health risks, regulatory authorities have established guidelines and restrictions on the levels of 1,4-dioxane allowed in personal care products in various countries.